Monday, September 12, 2011

The Choctaw Labor Day Celebration and Art Show

Each year the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma has a big celebration over the Labor Day Weekend.  There are many interesting events that take place over the course of the weekend and they have several musical artists entertaining along with traditional dance, food, and an Art Show.

One of the highlights of the event is the selection of the princesses for the coming year.  The winners for 2011 are shown to the right with the assistant chief in the traditional ceremonial dress. You can find out more about this part of the festival on the Choctaw Website

Another of the traditional events is the stickball tournament.  Stickball is a traditional sport that has been handed down from ancient times.  You can read a bit about the history of stickball in an article that I wrote some time ago on my Art Gallery page.  The Game Of Stickball

Along with all of the traditional activities and entertainment fun there is also an Art Show that is open to all Choctaw artists.  They offer everyone an opportunity to participate by allowing artists like myself that live a long way from Oklahoma to mail in 3 pieces for entry into the show.  This year I was fortunate enough to win some very nice prizes with the pieces that I sent in.

First off I sent in this miniature Mother and Child Bottle which is a reproduction of an ancient bottle made by the mound builders.  The Choctaw descend from the mound builders so I look to the rich culture of the mound builders for my traditional inspirations.  I really like the effigy type pottery and I like to make many of them in miniature.  This piece won a Heritage Award at the Labor Day show.  The Heritage award is defined as a work, regardless of category or other awards which exemplifies specific, traditional Choctaw culture.  Those items that promote and educate those practices that are specific to our Choctaw culture.  I am very honored to have won this award.  But there was more to come.

I also sent in one my Swift Creek Pipestone and Copper necklace.  This piece incorporates a traditional design from the paddles that a group of potters from the mound builders known as the Swift Creek potters used to paddle clay into pots.  Their paddles were wooden paddles that they carved with these designs.  They then put the clay over a gourd or rock and paddled it to create a bow or pot which would then have those designs overlapping over the outside of the pot.  I find these designs to be very interesting and thought that they would make wonderful pendants.  For this particular necklace I took a piece of catlinite which is the traditional indian pipestone used for making ceremonial pipes and I carved it with one of the swift creek paddle designs.  I then used copper wire to make a setting and chain for the piece that also incorporates the circles and spirals of the piece.  I used copper for two reasons.  First it is a metal that was used extensively by the ancient ancestors for their jewelry.  They used it because it was a metal that was found in a workable state and it is soft and easy to make into beautiful pieces even with their limited tools.  I also chose it for the beautiful warm color and how it matches well with the stone.  This piece won second place in the Jewelry category.

As I didn't attend the show I didn't even know I had won until I emailed a friend about a different subject.  When she replied to me she told me congratulations on the win, so it was a rather unexpected but wonderful revelation.  My thanks to Theresa Renegar of Chahta Nueska whom I have just discovered also won some prizes.  Looks like between us we swept the Jewelry category.  She won first place with this lovely repousse spirit horse on hand woven chain. Again utilizing copper.  She has done a great job of creating the horse.  She also won 3rd prize with a beaded piece which can be seen in the gallery on her website Chahta Nueska.


  1. That's really very nice blog It was really interesting reading this blog post Thanks for sharing with us.
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  2. Beautiful pieces, I love the copper necklace!

  3. Congrats on the win, Marsha! I am always amazed by what you turn out. You are very talented!